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14 October 2014
Science & Nature: TV & Radio Follow-upScience & Nature
Science & Nature: TV & Radio Follow-up

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Techlab

Drag the cloud to the right to see how Push-It works
When a bright light falls on a solar cell some of the light energy is converted into electrical energy. Several solar cells are normally connected together to make a solar panel. This is done in order to increase the power output.

The light releases electrons from the atoms that make up the solar cell. Electrons are very small electrically charged particles that form part of atoms. The light makes the negatively charged electrons collect at the negative terminal on the left. If a solar panel is wired to a motor then the electrons can flow in a continuous path to form an electric current.

The electrons move around the circuit, flowing through the wires and motor as they are attracted towards the positively charged terminal of the panel on the right. The brighter the light falling on the panel the greater the electric current generated.

Solar cells are not very efficient, they only convert about 10% to 20% of the light energy falling on the panel into electrical energy.

Select button two in the animation to see how light is converted into energy.

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